Youth Suicide a Growing Crisis Despite Preventive Efforts
Suicide claims 800 000 lives globally each year, and there are many more people who attempt suicide or have suicidal thoughts. While suicide is a leading cause of mortality across all age groups, youth suicide is a growing concern. It is the second cause of death among 15-24 year-olds in Canada, taking more lives than disease-related causes of death. A growing number of studies show that the suicide rate is increased in young people, especially among girls and young women. Similarly, the number of youths admitted to a hospital for thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, or intentional self-harm show a steady upward trend over recent years. While the causes of this escalation are unknown, we urgently need more research to better understand what makes young people at risk for suicide and to underpin the development of effective and portable treatments. Adolescence has been identified as a crucial period for suicide prevention as mental illnesses and suicidal behaviors occur at higher rates than in other periods of life. Paradoxically, mental health research of young people is currently underfunded.
Canadian Research Chair Goals
Suicide prevention is undoubtedly a top priority. The World Health Organization (WHO) member states, including Canada, have committed themselves to working towards the global target of reducing their suicide rate by 10%. In line with the WHO action plan, the goals of this Canada Research Chair in Youth Suicide Prevention is to better understand how and why suicide risk emerges during youth and to find low-cost interventions that work to lower suicidal risk.
Our research is based on large epidemiologically representative samples followed up since their birth from Québec (Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children) Canada (National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth), and Europe (National Child Development Study, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), in addition to administrative data and clinically depressed patients enrolled in our walking against depression randomized-controlled trial. Through the Quebec Network on Suicide and Related Mood Disorders (RQSHA) genotyping platform our research also takes the advantage of linked genetic data with a range of variable of interest to explore gene and environment interactions.
Ultimately, the team hopes to save lives lost prematurely due to suicide and also help young people bounce back and achieve successful transitions to adult life.
We are grateful to the following past and present funding agencies:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Quebec Network on Suicide, Mood Disorders and Related Disorders
- Ministère des Relations Internationales du Québec